context: in spite of helicobacter pylori infection being the etiological cause of peptic ulcer and its high prevalence in brazil, the prevalence of peptic ulcer disease has been poorly studied. objectives: to verify the peptic ulcer disease prevalence in patients of a tertiary care hospital. methods: diagnostic findings from 1,478 consecutive endoscopies were correlated with the urease test results for h. pylori infection diagnosis and demographic data in a total of 3,779 endoscopies performed in 2005. the mean age of the patients was 51.14 ± 16.46, being 613 (41.5%) men. results: peptic ulcer was diagnosed in 494 (33.4%) patients with a mean age of 54.86 ± 14.53, 205 (52%) were men, being 391 (26.5%) duodenal ulcer and 103 (7%) gastric ulcer. normal endoscopy was found in 272 (18.4%) patients with a mean age of 38.4 ± 15.22, being 49 (18%) men. the comparison of peptic ulcer group with the patients that had normal endoscopy revealed that h. pylori infection [p = 0.005; or = 1.70; 95% ci = 1.17-2.47][ign], male gender [p<0.0001; or = 5.53; 95%ci = 3.67-8.34][ign] and older age [p<0.0001; or = 1.08; 95%ci = 1.06-1.09] increased the risk of peptic ulcers. the overall h. pylori prevalence was 53% (786). conclusions: prevalence of duodenal ulcer is high in a brazilian population that had h. pylori infection associated with older age and male gender as important determinants to gastrointestinal diseases outcome. future prospective studies should confirm these findings.